I was only slightly disappointed to discover that Style & Class has nothing to do with helping me become a true lady. Instead, this meetup in Vancouver brings together designers and developers who love to make the web look and function better. I talked myself into going because I only dabble in these topics, but I am perpetually curious about how to get better.

Their first conference took place on Saturday and, if you didn’t know better, you would could never had guessed that this was their first event larger than a meetup. It was head and shoulders above many of the events I have attended in the past couple of years. Here are a few details from that conference that I want to remember, and that everyone else should be aware of.

What Made the Style & Class Conference So Good?

  • More than 50% women speakers. It can and should always be done at every conference. Here’s why I feel this way: I can very clearly see when it’s a women on stage and I will identify with that speaker. It’s very important to represent as wide a perspective as possible. Next time, I would love to see how representation of different races of designers and developers.
  • It started at noon on a Saturday. Not 8am after a party that went into the wee hours the night before. I think it’s a part of that bullshit macho culture to party hard all night and then make it a point to show up in the morning. I found it very thoughtful and showed that the organizers respected everyone’s time.
  • Every speaker presentation was interesting, rehearsed and had beautiful slides. Designers sure know how to give a presentation!
  • The chosen venue was appropriate – comfortable seats for everyone, darkened theatre room and yet you could still use your phone, or even laptop, if you wanted to capture notes or tweet.
  • All the profits from the event are going toward Ladies Learning Code! It’s a perfect partnership that is surprising, but shouldn’t be. When will it become normal for everyone to care about little girls having the same opportunities as little boys?
  • Fantastic flow to the day – just enough time to chat with other attendees before and after the event, with a solid 45-minute intermission in the middle. I also enjoyed being able to grab dinner before the after-party started 2 hours after the end of the conference.

We had a doorway jumper, a jumper with some sort of figure, plus an exersaucer. The doorway jumper was a total waste of funds at my opinion. I had been scared LO would likely click the entranceway figure and LO just drooled/nibbled all around the front. This baby jumpers buying guide was AWESOME making for plenty of giggles, on the other hand your woman outgrew it around only a few months. The particular exersaucer was excellent also and that we became plenty of work with outside of it. Your woman in fact outgrew the jumper quicker. We all never used some sort of walker. We only placed some weighty books inside of a washing laundry bag and let her push this about the house. Your woman was taking walks through 9 months.

This is a secret recipe for pulling off a flawless event, but it’s certainly a start, and a good reminder that the magic is in the details. Nothing can beat a homemade delicious tortilla. In the event that you've never used a tortilla press before they are simple to operate plus inexpensive. That they are a good accessory for ones kitchen. This best tortilla press buying guide is incredible. It really is heavy. stunning plus can the position like simply no other. I'll state of which making tortillas with this press is a joy. This computer hardware of which props up major wooden in concert is definitely calibrated to make sure people just have to press once and also you receive an possibly tortilla. My business is fairly deeply in love with the following thing.

But, what did I learn? I have a couple ideas for taking this blog where I want to take it. Namely, I’ll be starting with a content analysis before the new year. I’m going to figure out what content I already have, and what content I need to create, to match the branding ideas I have. Then I’m going to go in and clean up the bit of mess I’ve made in the CSS stylesheet this year while improving the readability of the site – particularly the line heights and the fonts. So excited!

None of the approaches to personal blogging that I have tried have worked yet. For them to work I would have to be writing and publishing on a consistent basis. I have tried to publish twice a week, which usually works for about 1 week, and I have tried once a month, which quickly turns into never. Very well, realizing your own condition, we've for you many astounding merge dragons cheats which any time employed, may be exceptionally very helpful that you can advancement from the game. These cheats and hacks are likely to be you actually saviors in this particular exclusive world. Thus put on your video games truck caps and start the particular journey. This Game Hack is employed to get resources in game. SAO integral factor android hack is actually coded by way of extremely famous game cracker. Our hack tool does not need private data on all.You only need to provide username in addition to the online hack will add free resources to your current or your friends account. This hack is cost-free and online you don't need to download anything. As well ninja voltage unlimited shinobite may be accessibility from any OS and system To generate videos from android or iOS devices or perhaps PC. Game Generator does never call for any kind of particular approval on the cellular this makes this coin dozer ios hack one of that kind. Each of our program won't ever store your information on all. Graphical user interface is extremely simple to use in addition to this castle crush hack apk is invisible therefore put find ban.We revise this hack every day or two to maintain it operational to get users.

I have attempted to theme my months with catchy names and the hope that I would have an easier time of coming up with ideas. But, a lack of ideas has never been the problem. I have more than enough ideas – ideas about what circumstances will help me write, when, where and how. Ideas about how to structure my blog, what kind of writing process to use, and how to gather research. Half-formed ideas that are wasting away in WordPress drafts and Evernotes.

No, the problem is not a lack of ideas. The problem is a lack of writing.

The problem might be the phrase ‘personal blogging strategy’ itself. I can spend hours creating a calendar of wishful blog post titles. I can even get started on the outlines for posts with a solid idea of what I want to write. But without sitting down and writing it all out – everything else is just bullshit. That’s how I feel – walking around, pretending that I’m a writer, while being too scared to actually write anything.

What could I possibly be scared of, you ask? I’m afraid that I will pour my heart and soul into creating something, only to realize that it’s not good at all. I don’t actually feel this fear everyday because I, as a human, have a lot of built-in defences to protect myself from admitting that. My actual excuses, ones that I give to myself and other people, are a good place to start with removing the safety net of my inaction.

My Excuses for Not Writing

  • “I don’t/didn’t have the time”

    This might be my most used up excuse of all time. Who can argue with it? We’re all so busy that most people can sympathize with letting things fall to the wayside. But here’s where it gets tricky – smart people never understand how I couldn’t have time for something that I have deemed “most important.” Instead, how about I try telling the truth: “It isn’t/wasn’t a priority.” I don’t say that because it’s heartbreaking to hear myself say that about writing. But, for a long time, it has been true.

  • “It’s not just something you can turn on”

    I think that this excuse has a long history among creatives who were billing by the hour. For me, it’s something I say to release myself from putting any intention into writing. Like a scarf caught in the wind, I’m at the mercy of my creative urges, just praying that I will gently settle into the perfect writing conditions. I don’t think it’s laziness, because I have literally cleaned the house top to bottom to procrastinate writing. It’s that it’s not easy to do. Sitting down to write amidst a world full of distractions requires discipline, focus and routine.

  • “I’m working on something else”

    This excuse usually fools others because the others things I’m working are tangentially related to writing. Fixing up the design of my blog, reading books, or watching documentaries are common “impressive” ways to procrastinate. All of these things are extremely valuable and essential to my creative outlet, but I’m abusing my interests and hobbies. All of the tasks I mentioned are only useful if they contribute to my creative outlet, not take away from it.

The Blogging Strategy that Worked

The Artist's Way by Julia CameronSince writing this post I’ve read a book that changed my life. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron was recommended to me by a librarian who noticed my interest in the craft of writing. He cautioned me not to be thrown off by the book’s sub-title (‘A spiritual path to higher creativity’).

Since then I have encountered a least a dozen other fans of this book. I was meeting my friend Humaira at The Minimalist’s book tour and she had the book in her purse! While waiting in line, 3 other people commented on their love for the book.

Well what did the book teach me? It revealed long-buried reasons for my creative block – things people said to me as a child that I took for gospel and held in my sub-conscious well into adulthood. How my creativity was languishing in many other aspects of my life, not just writing. What else?

  • Morning pages are the cornerstone of creative recovery. Cameron prescribes 3 pages of writing every morning, before your ego wakes up, throughout the course of reading the book (which should take 12 weeks). I still write the pages now, which average about 1,000 words most days, and the effect of journaling every day is invigorating.
  • Artist dates are what Cameron calls a date with your creative self, which she suggests should take place at least once a week. Some of my own have included bike-riding to the beach to watch fireworks, wandering around a bookstore for hours, and buying a new notebook and pencil crayons. Doing those things you find most therapeutic is like fuel for your creativity.
  • Exercise is key to controlling stress. When stress takes over it becomes impossible to justify an artist date or sitting down to write. How can I possibly be so selfish in such a time of strife? But, I found that writing and exercise are two sides of the same coin. They both need to be present in my life in order to control stress and live to the best of my ability.

I fully recommend this book to anyone that loves to create. You will dig up some painful memories from the past, and you may come to the realization that you are your own worst enemy, but you will be better for it. You will be a better writer, a better blogger and a better person.

Did you like this post? Sign up for new posts straight to your inbox!

* = required field

{This post is the 2nd edition of The Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver Startup Community, which I wrote in Nov. 2012. A lot has happened in a year, so there are a few tweaks to the format. The original guide drew it’s inspiration from A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Toronto Startup Ecosystem and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Boston Tech Community.}

As always, I hope that this guide helps anyone new to Vancouver, new to a career in startups, or with a new-found vigour for life.

Startup Guide

Let me know in the comments if I have missed any great Vancouver startup resources – and I would love to add them to this post.

Guides - Header

Don’t miss out on fantastic writing on the Internet just because it was published on the weekend! Check out the links below to some great reads to ease back into the work week.

The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happinessby Andrew Anthony

Oddly enough, Gottman, the psychologist whose research showed that divorce could be predicted by a 0.8 positive-to-negative behaviour ratio during arguments, couldn’t understand the math behind a hugely popular psychology article, which claims a 2.9 positive-to-negative emotions ratio as the basis of human flourishing. But, it took a part-time, retired psychology student to bring the bad mathematics of happiness to wider attention. Interesting read, which reveals the state of positive psychology right now.

Further Reading: Bright-Sided: How positive thinking is undermining America by Barbara Ehrenreich

How the Simpsons have secretly been teaching you mathby Indre Viskontas & Chris Mooney

Mathematics was a hot topic this weekend! Simon Singh, author of the book The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, uncapped a fountain of mathematical references and surprises in each Simpsons episode. Not very surprising when you consider the amount of Simpson’s writers who are also mathematicians!

Darkness in August by Buzz Bissinger

Tells the story about the circumstances surrounding the killing of a young Australian baseball player in the small Oklahoma town of Duncan. Bissinger paints a bleak picture of class segregation, racism, and poverty that is all too common. Whatever the motivation the killer(s) had, it’s clear that this story started a long time ago for everyone involved.

Happy reading!

Essay HeaderNothing could have emotionally prepared me for skiing in the Swiss Alps. I’m well aware of the privilege of travelling, even to cold places, but I needed more than gratitude to pad my ego during a Christmas trip to St. Moritz, Switzerland.

St Moritz is a lavish ski village, about 3 hours drive north of the Zurich airport. Standing outside the Kempinkski Hotel, you are surrounded by summits on either side, invoking a sense of sublime that hasn’t been felt in centuries. It was cold, but not for the overly-packed, and it came with all the comforts of a 5-star destination.

It wasn’t as cold as Saint-Anne, Quebec, which I visisted during the Great Road Trip of 2010 (Ontario > New Brunswick > Ontario > Quebec > Ontario). It was my first attempt at skiing outside of Blue Mountain in Ontario, and the elements were not going to take it easy on me. After one easy ride down the mountain I was frozen to the core and itching for apres. After a full-blown temper tantrum, followed by sliding down the mountain on my ass, I was hanging up my skis for the remainder of the trip. This was the moment I realized that skiing, a completely non-sentient, sometimes enjoyable activity, had unearthed the darkest realizations of my id. Skiing had gotten the best of me.

A couple of years later, during Christmas 2012, I was in Whistler, not far from my home in North Vancouver. After only 2 half-days of professional ski training, I was whizzing down slopes with a blue-dot, a far leap from my days of sticking to the ‘easiest route.’ More than technical skills, I felt that my short stint in training equipped me with the proper mindset: fall, get up, dust yourself off, keep going. I ended up with the best vacation of my life.

As I stood at the bottom of St. Moritz’s Piz Nair, 3,000m above me, I knew that I was tackling a much different beast. Whistler had not prepared me for the Swiss Alps, which I so strongly believed in that moment. But, my ski gear was on, and I was travelling up the gondola, so the only way down was strapped to a pair of skis. Everything went smoothly at first, up a gondola, then onto a chairlift, then it was time to ski. Ski down a short run, get on another chairlift – up to the top. Piz Nair is the highest summit in the St. Moritz ski village. From there, you are greeted by a large goat statue, gifted with a stunning panoramic view, and served hot chocolate and schnitzel.

St Moritz Piz Nair ViewThen, respite was over. It was time for paralysing fear. I stared down the run in front of me. It was a metre across sloped gently downward, before curving around a hairpin turn and continuing to parts unknown. On my right side was a wall of snow, while on my left side was a cliff of snow, again to parts unknown. I skied slowly, started to pick up speed, and stopped. I was trembling, but other than that movement, I was completely still. I couldn’t do it. Images of falling over the snow-cliff, prompted images of starting an avalanche, only to be buried alive 100 feet deep.

After a solid 10 minutes of simply standing, I built up the courage to continue down. I had to; save an embarrassing trip going the wrong way on a chairlift, I had no other options. I didn’t feel that I had the skills to navigate the advanced terrain. Whether I was lacking in technical ability, or just mental strength, was impossible for me to discern in the moment.

The rest of the trip down the mountain was white-knuckled, sloppy skiing – the worst kind. I fell more times than I cared to count, and right at the end of the last run, I was faced with a sheet of ice that banked right and paralleled a small river, before crossing over a bridge. I couldn’t handle anymore terrifying scenarios, so I kicked off my skis and started to slide. A women skied over and began talking fast in German, before switching to English in order to tell me that I was in a dangerous spot and she would carry my skis down the small hill for me.

I had reached the bottom of the mountain without a shred of pride or dignity left. Skiing has the uncanny ability to push me to the limits of my ego. First, I’m scared, then I’m angry, then I’m embarrassed, and then I’m over it; those are the stages of ego death by skiing. It’s not the first time it has happened, but will it be the last?

I’m left considering whether I will ever ski again. Like most people, I hear that voice in my head urging me not to give up. Is that my ego? The part of me who cares whether people think I’m a weakling who gives up easily? Or, is that a healthy ambition that desires adventure and adrenaline? All I know is that ego has no business on a mountain.


Guides - Header

3am and still staring at the dark ceiling
Tarot: The Hermit
A dark cloud above my head, filled with all the things I didn’t get done that day, is a bedtime staple of mine. It’s hard to sleep when all you can think about is not having enough hours in the day to get everything done. Saying “I didn’t have time” is my favourite excuse for not accomplishing my goals and dreams.

That’s just an excuse though, it’s not the real reason why I’m not getting anything done. The only reason that something didn’t get done is that it wasn’t prioritized above other things that day. That’s when it hit me.

In just the month of October I have had 14 coffee meetings and attended 11 events, two of which were full-day affairs. Factor in travel, the amount of time that it takes to schedule meetings, and the downtime I require after a heavy dose of socializing, and I can see that a significant portion of my working days are going toward lunches, coffee and workshops.

The Anti-Social Experiment

Starting today I will not schedule any more coffee meetings or networking events until the new year (approximately 8 weeks). For the purpose of my experiment:

  • A coffee meeting is any meeting serving as an introduction, that is primarily career-related, or with someone I haven’t met outside of the Internet before
  • A networking event is a career-related social or professional development event, like workshops or meetups
  • I have 4 meetings and events scheduled for the month of November, which I will remain committed to
  • This experiment will not involve all social activities that I enjoy doing – I will still go see plays and have dinner with friends or family

Why Am I Doing This?

  • Despite an intense focus on productivity over the past couple of months, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m constantly behind – whether it’s piling up laundry, or going days without writing, I’m not making time for my goals…
  • Because – when I make a commitment to another person, like a meeting or an RSVP, it takes precedence over everything else, for better or for worse. I will neglect my boyfriend, my puppy, and myself in order to be fully present for any commitment that I have made
  • Meeting people is very enjoyable – and it’s an extremely low-friction activity that contributes positively to my life, which has made it very easy to replace anything slightly higher friction, like writing, with meeting people
  • Although I don’t plan on continuing this experiment forever, I do know that I require radical changes in order to make a radical difference in my productivity (see: The No Home Internet Experiment)
  • If someone asks for a meeting over the course of the 6 months, I think I could more politely decline by providing the context succinctly with a link to this post
  • At the end of the experiment I will be able to look at my to-do list, the numbers of words I write daily, and my thoughts and emotions right before sleep, in order to gauge the effect of removing events
  • After a few weeks of this experiment I will write a detailed post explaining my methodology for tracking results

I’m really looking forward to giving myself permission to be a recluse. I think that all of my priorities (Misha + Hyde, myself, learning Russian, writing, cooking and my home) will seriously benefit. My measure of success at the end of this experiment is whether I have managed to get rid of the looming feeling that I don’t get anything done.

I’m very curious to hear from people who restrain their social commitments, purposefully or otherwise…

Additional Reading: Most of what you are going to do or say today is not essential – Farnam Street Blog


Guides - Header

I have a hard time maintaining a daily routine. Luckily, I value novelty, and I feel no need to maintain the status quo, but I also am not above changing my behaviour for better outcomes.

One of my goals with lifestyle experimentation is to find ways to slow down my perception of time. Like most people “I can’t believe it’s Hallowe’en already” and I don’t think my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach to life is helping.

The Jack Dorsey Approach to Daily Routine

My ears perked up at Jack Dorsey’s approach to running two companies at once, as discussed in Buffer’s The Daily Routines of 7 Famous Entrepreneurs, and I began to explore how I could adapt it to my personal routine.

I had to take my personal and professional life into consideration when planning the themes of my day, just like Dorsey considered Twitter and Square. As a writer my time is dedicated to writing for clients and writing on this blog, but also maintaining my website, (forever) tweaking my blog structure and design, and administrative tasks. Also, I have to factor in major tasks like errands, appointments, grocery shopping, me time and us time.

Here’s the theme-based routine that I have been working with for a month:

Theme-Based Routine Example

In addition to daily routine, I have come up with a monthly routine, specifically tailored to my goal of tracking my finances each month.

The Pros & CONS:

    • Pro: less stressful thoughts! When I neglected a task for a couple day’s in a row – I would have to deal with the unfortunate effect of having to write it again on my daily task list. Now, if it’s Friday I can set aside all thoughts about Wednesday’s appointment making or Tuesday’s errands.
    • Con: I still require more flexibility. I cannot get all my client writing done in one day, so what has happened is that most mornings are dedicated to client writing and my afternoons adhere to the theme-based routine.
    • Pro: more productive! This was another one of my goal’s with testing out a theme-based routine. Despite dedicating only one full day to client writing I’m still able to spend time on all the things in my life that I enjoy. In the past month I have managed to write

It will be easy to continue with this routine in the coming months and I think it is a process well-suited to entrepreneurs, freelancers and people who love juggling multiple projects.

Have you written a post about your daily routine? Link to it in the comments below or send me a tweet: @terakristen. I’m dying to read and share it. 

Guides - Header

zev via Compfight

I undertook my experiment of cutting off home Internet in April 2013. I would love to say it was my idea, but unfortunately I used every excuse not to give up my precious home Internet. It wasn’t until I read “Killing the Internet at Home is the Most Productive Thing I’ve Ever Done” on TheMinimalists.com that I had my last good excuse ripped from my clutches. Surely I could make no home Internet work for me if a man who runs a website for a living did it. I moved into a new apartment and simply did not get Internet set up. The plan was to do my work on the Internet at coffee shops and the library.

When I had resigned myself to the giving this experiment a try, I realized there were a few bad Internet habits I had that may benefit from restricted access…

Continue reading on Medium.com

Guides - Header

No matter how hard I try to be neat and orderly in life, chaos, in the form of unnecessary things, always creeps in. The interior of my car slowly deteriorates into a receptacle for water bottles, coffee cups and damned parking tickets. I love shutting the doors of closets to cover up the mayhem behind. Don’t even get me started on the inside of my handbags.

In “How Clutter Affects Your Brain,” writer Mikael Cho discusses research findings that concluded that “physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.” On the other hand, new research from psychologist Kathleen D. Vohs, discussed in “What a Messy Desk Says About You,” suggests that surroundings that are too neat can inhibit in some ways:

Disordered offices encouraged originality and a search for novelty

Continue reading

Diary Header

Freelance Diaries Icon

The Accidental Freelancer Diaries will be a series of blog posts published on the 2nd Saturday of every month.This series will chronicle my ups, downs and lessons learned as I navigate the world of being a freelance writer and community manager in Vancouver, BC.

The life of a solopreneur may be tough but it’s worth it. Most days.

How did we get here?

I would have to say that it started when I got my first job at KFC at the age of 16. This is unrelated but I thought you should know that my friends and I were flashed by an old man, while waiting for my interview, who was wearing a trench coat and strange tights, that only covered by above his knee to his ankle. I got the job at KFC thinking that perhaps they felt sorry for me.

After that day I didn’t go very long without work. In university I was in a co-op program, which meant that after my first year each semester alternated between school and work. During school I held a myriad of jobs: psychology labs, hostessing and then finally as a community manager at a local mobile startup.

I still had two semesters of school to finish when I started working at the startup, but I loved the job so much that I was afraid that if I didn’t work full-time I would miss my opportunity. School suffered, but I still passed all my classes and wrapped up my undergrad in December 2011. Then, tragedy struck. I was let go from my position at the startup, which prompted me to look closely at what I accomplished as their community manager. Some, but not enough.

In the spirit of running away from one’s problems

In the spirit of running away from one’s problems, I decided to move to Vancouver to live with my boyfriend of 4 years after 2 years of long-distance. I was terrified. Not just of moving across the country, which I had never done before, but also of having no plan B. I didn’t know what company I wanted to work at, or whether I truly had any skills to offer. So when I had a couple people mention a lead in Vancouver at another early-stage startup I pursued it with everything I had.

Fast-forward 6 months and it’s becoming clear that this startup had jumped the gun in terms of hiring a community manager. But, since I was already working there, I was helping in other ways. Ways that I wasn’t the best at, or the most interested in. Thanks to an all-around ability to communicate, I parted ways with this company amicably.

test-drive the work

I had learned some things from these two jobs, but not quite enough. I knew that I didn’t want to rush into another job, although I almost did, and I knew that the way that someone describes the job and workplace and my reality of it won’t always be the same.

I decided that instead of signing full-time contracts after only a few interviews, I would test-drive the work by suggesting a temporary contract. Most companies are hiring because they have a back-log of things that need to be done and no one to do them. So, in my next interview, I suggested a full-time, temporary contract on the basis that the work will get done immediately, and then we will be forced to review the contract.

After first I was challenged on the basis that there are people who claim that they want to the job, and I am here saying that I’m not sure. From my point of view, anyone saying that they without a doubt would love a job without doing it first is just blowing smoke. I’m being honest by saying that I need to spend some time with a job before I start claiming I love it. I spent 4 months on that first contract, and it was a fantastic learning experience, but I was ready to move on afterwards.

feast or famine

That’s when I really got thrown into the sink or swim, feast or famine, fight or flight world of freelancing. I’ve gone months without paying work, but I’ve also had the opportunity to run my own business, on my own terms.

Freelancing is not the easiest option I could have taken and I’m still not 100% sure if it’s a means to an end, or the end itself. I haven’t been at this for 15 years, and I have made a ton of mistakes, but I have always found that the best way for me to learn is by processing my experiences, intuition and choices and writing them down in a semi-coherent fashion. So you can expect to read another instalment of The Accidental Freelancer Diaries next month.